By: Sally Sotelo
Materials you will need:
Approx. 4 oz. black polymer clay (I use Premo)
Approx. 4 oz. white polymer clay
Approx 2 oz each of 2 different complementary colors of polymer clay
Aluminum painters palette with 10 cups or indentations preferably but a 6 cup palette can also be used. I use one of each.
1 ¼ inch circle cutter
1 inch circle cutter (other sizes of circle cutters can be used as well)
Stamp or texture sheet of your choice
Spray bottle of water
Sharp razor blade
Wet/Dry Sandpaper in grits 400 thru 1000
Super Glue Gel or Kato Poly Glue
Plastic finger protectors (usually from office supply store)
Condition your white clay and run it thru your pasta machine at the thickest setting. Make 2 sheets from this, both of them approx. 3 inches X 4 inches. Do the same with your black clay. Take one black sheet and one of the white sheets and set them aside to use later. See photo 1 below.
Now place the black sheet down on a flat surface first, then one of the other colors on top of that then the other colored sheet of clay, and end with the white sheet of clay on top. So that they go black , gold, copper, then white. Flatten one end of this stack down as you will be feeding it into your PM. See fig. 3
Now feed this stack into your PM at the thickest setting on your machine. Take that now longer sheet of clay and cut it in half. And stack them one on top of the other. Run it through your machine again and cut and stack again, then one more time. For a total of 3 passes through your machine, cutting and stacking. You will end up with one long sheet of clay. Now I usually have to cut this resulting sheet of clay into 2 or 3 pieces, because it is too long to use with my stamps or texture sheets. So cut yours accordingly. See fig 4
(Picture above is of clay sheet after first cut and stack.) Now take your stamp or texture sheet, which ever you prefer. Photo below is of 2 different types of texture sheets and a stamp, just to show examples of what you may want to use.
I chose to use the stamp for this example. Now take your water bottle and give the stamp a few good shots of water. Now lay your stack of clay, black side facing down onto the stamp. Now spray the white side of the stack of clay with one good shot of water. Taking your acrylic roller, pressing down hard, roll the stack into the stamp, rolling in one direction and do this in only one pass. Don’t roll back and forth over the stack with the roller. One pass over the clay only. Now peel the stamp off of your stack of clay. See photo.
Now flip the stack so that the black side is facing up. And secure the stack to your work surface by pressing it around the edges. You don’t want your stack to be moving around on your surface for the next step. Now get the black and white sheets that you prepared earlier, and lay them down on your surface next to the stamped stack. Now taking a very sharp blade, start shaving off only the raised areas of your stamped stack of clay. You don’t necessarily want huge pieces at a time. Smaller pieces are better. As you shave off these pieces, flip them over and place them onto your white and black sheets of clay. Place them randomly on these sheets, leaving spaces of the black and white clay showing through. See photo
Continue to shave your stack all the way down the length of the sheet. You may get some areas, where you either cut too deep or not enough. Not to worry, just lay those bits in your scrap clay pile. Your resulting sheets of clay should look something like these. See photo
Now take your white sheet with the shavings on it and place it in your PM. Turn it down to the second thickest setting and run your sheet through. Turn it down to the next thickest setting and turn your sheet of clay a quarter turn and send it through again. You may have to do it one more time, turning your machine to the next setting, and running your sheet through a final time. But 2 passes is usually sufficient. You want the sheet to look nice and smooth with no parts of the sheet having any raised areas. Now do the same to your black sheet. And then finally, do this to your shaved sheet of clay. Turning your machine down to the next setting and turning your sheet of clay each time. They should look something like the photo below.
Now take some scrap clay. You are going to want quite a bit of it. Run it through your PM at the third thickest setting on the machine. You are going to use this as a backing on the 3 sheets that you just smoothed out. Otherwise your beads will be too thin and won’t be strong enough to hold up when you go to string them later. So lay this backing sheet of scrap clay, behind your sheets of clay. Try to make sure not to trap any air between the 2 sheets. Now take a 1 inch circle cutter, or whatever sized cutter that you want the beads to be and start cutting out circles of clay from your sheet(s). Try to get part of the design and part of the background color in each circle that you cut. It makes them more interesting, and shows more contrast on the bead. See photo, in this photo I have used 2 different sized circles.
Once you have cut as many circles as you can from each sheet, get out your aluminum paint palette. Lay one of your circles face down into each cup or indentation in the palette, pressing down into the center of each circle. Do this for as many of your cut circles that you can. (I use 2 or 3 paint palettes at one time) Now take your index finger and/or your thumb whichever is easier for you to use, and run it along the top edge around the circle. Try to make the edge as flat as possible. See photos below.
Do this for each circle, all the way around. Then place the palette in your preheated oven and cook at the recommended temperature for approx 25-30 minutes. After you have removed them from the oven, while still warm, using a spoon or some other utensil, pop each circle out of the cups of the palette, and let them cool completely. You should notice that the decorated side of the bead should have a somewhat shiny surface. That is from being cooked face down in the aluminum palette. This should make the need to sand later very minimal. That was the whole goal of the project for me, because I really hate to sand! This is what they will look like once you’ve taken them out of the palette.
Next you will need to get some of those plastic finger protectors that you get from an office supply store, and some drywall screen. See photos
Place the finger protectors on your thumb and first 2 fingers, and grab one of your now dome shaped circles. Sand the edges of the circle down to where they are flat. This is so that 2 of the dome shaped ½ beads will go together smoothly, and the seam won’t be as noticeable. It doesn’t take much sanding to get a good smooth surface. After you have a few of them sanded, try placing them together, to see if you have sanded them enough, and that they will go together nicely. After you have sanded all of your beads down, clean up your work surface, and rinse the white chalky residue from your beads. Now get out your Kato Poly Glue or some gel type super glue is also good. Holding one of the domes, place a thin bead of the glue all the way around the edge that you just sanded. If you want to make them musical beads, now would be the time to place a few seed beads in the center of the bead. Then take the other half of the bead and place them together. Be careful that they don’t slide around. Make sure you have a nice looking bead, as seamless looking as possible. Hold them together for a few seconds, and then, do the same to the next one until all of your beads have been glued together. Now get out your pin vise or hand drill. Use a smaller bit to make small holes through your bead on both sides. You can now start to sand your beads (if you think that they need it) to a beautiful finish and coat them with a shiny finish, or buff them to a high shine. String them into bracelets, necklaces, or whatever you like. Here is a picture of some of the many hollow bead bracelets I have made using this technique.
I will explain in another tutorial how I got the look on the beads pictured in the photos 18.104.22.168.8.9. and 18 above. So look for that tutorial to be posted soon!